March 15, 2017

MILA'S BIRTH STORY

A couple of weeks leading up to Mila's birth, I had frequent and sometimes very consistent braxton hicks. Especially at night. So I didn't think too much of it when I had them all the night before my due date. But that morning, on March 3rd, I woke up around 6:00 feeling like they were a bit stronger. They felt different this time. They felt like they could be the real deal!

I decided to start timing them to see. I still had doubts because I already had a couple of days where I thought things were going to happen and nothing persisted.

The surges (contractions) were still happening after a couple of hours. But they were so sporadic! Sometimes 6 minutes apart, sometimes 10. My water had broken early on with Roxy so I wasn't sure what to expect if it didn't.

Even so, I started getting ready just in case. Cameron decided to work from home that day too. We had a leisurely morning making breakfast and cleaning the house. I colored with Roxy and took my 40 week bump picture. All while breathing deep, relaxing through the surges, and listening to calming music. I called my dad to give them a heads up. "I think it's happening..." I told him. I still wasn't a hundred percent certain!

We called Lisa who was staying at Marli's and we figured we might as well go to the hospital. That way I would know for certain and could really get in the zone. By that point I had been having surges for about 5 hours, though they were still pretty inconsistent. So Lisa drove over to be with Roxy while she napped.
A few with my girl while I was zenning out. I had prayed that I would be able to have some time with Roxy before leaving to the hospital and that I'd get to say goodbye. I'm so glad it worked out! She is my baby forever. :')

I continued listening to music on the ride there and I remember rubbing my belly and putting my full focus on the little baby inside. I remember thinking, okay little one, I'm going to do my best to make this as smooth as possible for you!

Just before we went into the hospital, Cameron gave me a blessing. The plan was to have another unmedicated hypnobirth, like Roxy's, and the words in the blessing brought me such great comfort about it! I felt calm and prepared. I knew I could count on my Heavenly Father to help me with whatever happened that day and that my sweet angel would make it to me safely.

When we got up to labor and delivery, they checked me and I was at a six. Cam and I looked at each other in shock. What?! I wasn't even sure I was in labor, how could I be at a six already?! The nurse checking us in said that it was pretty good I was still smiling at that point. She said we'd probably go fast so we called Lisa, Marli, and our birth videographer to meet us at the hospital. Lisa took Roxy over to my aunt Shirley's for the rest of the day.

When we got set up in our room I got in bed and Cameron put my peaceful music on speaker. I listened for a while and did deep breathing. Then I felt like getting up on the labor ball. I just continued to breathe through each surge--up and deep. I rested my head on the side of the bed and Cameron held my hand. Seriously, he is the BEST partner ever. He walked me through each one and whispered in my ear. He told me I could do it and reminded me to relax. He also got some essential oils to massage my back while I was laboring on the ball. By this point everyone (except my mom and Gram who were driving from New Mexico) had shown up.

After they monitored Mila's heartbeat for a bit while I was on the ball (they have to do it every 30 minutes if you don't want to be hooked up to the monitors), I felt like walking the hallways. While I was walking, I started feeling pretty crazy. I kept telling Cameron to help me relax. And whenever I'd go through a surge I put my arms around his neck and breathed deep. He just continued telling me encouraging words and I could tell how much it helped. My shoulders relaxed and I let my body take the lead. I was able to breathe even deeper and longer. Looking back, I really think I was already going through transition at this point.

I continued hearing my positive affirmations in my mind. Each surge brings my baby closer to me. I work with my body. My mind is relaxed. My body is relaxed. I breathe correctly and eliminate tension. One step closer. One step closer. Listening to them every single day really paid off and really helped me through this time of transition!

As we were walking around I wanted Cameron to tell our nurse to start filling up the tub. My mind just kept going nuts and I really needed to get in the tub and shut everything out so I could keep calm. When we got back to the room the tub was full. It felt so good the instant I got in and turned on the jets! Cam also started diffusing some calming oils in the bathroom. We brought my music in as well. It was exactly what I needed.

After what seemed like a super short time the nurse had me get out again to check the baby's heart. I sat on the labor ball again while she did this.

After we checked Mila, the nurse asked if I wanted to check my cervix. I was hesitant because I didn't want to be discouraged, but curiosity got the best of me and felt relaxed enough to handle it. She checked me and I was at an eight. I felt fine about that and was ready to get back in the tub. I figured, I might be at this a couple more hours. I can do this!

Cam helped me back in the tub. After a couple of surges I felt like sitting up in the tub so I could feel the jets directly on my back. Right as I sat up I felt another surge and I felt my body trying to push. I knew that feeling! I immediately looked at Cam and told him I felt like pushing. He asked if I wanted to get out I said yes!! He helped me stand up and dry off and right then I put my arms around his neck and just let my body go limp. It was pushing alright! I needed to get in a good position ASAP!

We walked out of the bathroom and Cam told the nurse that I felt like I needed to push. She looked at me and said, "Oh are you feeling some pressure?" I'm sure she was doubtful because she had just barely checked me and I was at an eight. I said yes and she said she could check me again. I felt another one coming so I asked if we could wait until the next one. It felt so good to put my arms around Cam and just let my body hang limp and do it. He could tell that I was pushing and kept saying, "just relax, relax. She's almost here." All I could think in my head was, I need the bed lowered so I can breathe this baby out right now!

I finally got in the bed and after the nurse checked she said something like, "you have a little bit of cervix left, but your water bag is in the way. We can get that popped for you and you'll be delivered."

What the? It's like she wasn't speaking English. So am I at a 10 now? Can I push now? Can I get the bed lowered now, please?! The other ladies in the room could all see the confusion on my face and they said she was just asking if I wanted my water broken so that it'd be easier for me to push. Finally I realized I had made to a 10 and I got so excited!

I wanted my birth to take it's natural course, so I was hesitant to have my water broken for me. I don't remember what I said, but I think I must of agreed to it since she was almost there and it didn't sound very invasive. Didn't matter anyway. The nurse never got the chance to get the hooky thing for it...

I then asked for what felt like the hundredth time (I think I just kept thinking it) if the bed could be adjusted in a sitting position. I hoped to have a birth bar too. This is the position I was in with Roxy and I wanted to do it again this time.

But the nurse was entering stuff into the computer so we tried putting it in a chair position ourselves. I scooted forward and attempted to sit on the edge of it. It still wasn't lowered all the way down, so I just kind of leaned back awkwardly. Suddenly I felt a pop and a gush of fluid ran out! There was a pause and then the nurse said, "that was your water breaking" and she started to leave the room to call my doctor.

I sat up in the bed and then could feel another huge gush of fluid run out onto the bed and floor. just then I felt something between my legs. I think I said, "I feel something.."Lisa responded and said that it was just my water bag. That didn't feel like a water bag. Marli later said I had a puzzled look on my face as I reached down and felt a little head with hair! Just as I did this Cameron lifted up my gown and said, "that's the head!" And Lisa said, "Oh she's out!" And it was not like she was crowning. Her ENTIRE head was born up to her neck! I asked Cam after how it looked and he said it just looked like a little floating head!

A flood of nurses came running in. I felt like a million different directions were being shouted at me, but they wanted me to be flat on my back with my knees up to my head. Exactly what I didn't want to do! But in the moment I knew she was practically out so I didn't fight it. One nurse kept telling me to push. That was basically impossible at that moment, so I just let everything relax and a few seconds later they were pulling her out. They immediately laid her on my chest and she was just curled up. I felt a rush of adrenaline hit me and reached for her and pulled her close and I think I said, "Oh my little Mila!" She felt so teeny and warm! She looked up at me and didn't scream at all. I think they tried to get her to cry and she made a cute little tiny squeal! We were all crying! I was shaking uncontrollably!

Right as they laid her on me my doctor sprinted in and we met eyes. I said, "You almost made it!" He let out a huge sigh and said "yeah I think I need to work on my sprints!" I think he was really disappointed he was not alerted sooner, but I'm glad he was there to make sure the rest of the delivery went okay.

After her cord was done pulsing and my doctor helped get the rest of the nutrients to her from it, Cam got to cut the cord. There was a lot going on at this point--people cleaning up, nurses entering information and asking for the time because no one got it, etc. We were all just mesmerized by this little girl and her black hair!

They put her inside my gown so she could be skin to skin for a while--my favorite part--and after a bit took her out again to weigh and measure her. She weighed 8 lbs 1 oz and was 19" long! Born at 4:53 PM (debatably).

I was still shaking uncontrollably so Marli helped get a blanket on me. I couldn't believe what had just happened and how fast everything went! I was still in shock and on such a high! I was so so happy she was here safe and sound! There are just no words to describe the feeling and really the entire experience of bringing a person into the world. The whole nine months included. I am so blessed and humbled and grateful to have been able to have this spiritual and powerful experience!

After things settled a bit, we were told there were no restrictions on children being there, so Lisa and Marli went to go pick up Roxy. I was so excited to see her meet her new baby sister!

While we waited for Roxy, I spent more time skin to skin with Mila (seriously, the best!) and she nursed for the first time. I love that they let you spend so much time in the delivery room now and hold off on newborn procedures.

Lisa called us when they arrived with Roxy, and Cameron went out to get her so we could get her arrival on video. When she entered the room, I immediately got teary eyed. She smiled when she saw me and pointed at Mila. Daddy brought her over to us. She immediately loved on her and gave her sweet kisses. She giggled when she sneezed. My heart was so full! It's so true when they say the love in your heart just grows. How did I get so lucky to be the mother of these two perfect girls?
First moments as a family of four!
Loving on sister.

I'm also so glad we decided to go with a videographer, and I'm excited to share more on that later and see the different perspectives of this special day!

And we are just beyond thrilled to have Mila safely here with us and we thank all who have prayed and sent well wishes and gifts. We truly are blessed and feel so loved. It has been a time of adjustment for all of us, but we can't imagine life without our perfect little Mila Rose. Now on to new adventures as a family of four!

March 2, 2017

BEING IN LOVE WITH THE PRESENT


It seems like the end of pregnancy can make one a bit crazy...

I'm not going to lie. I feel fine. I feel good for the most part. But also kinda like I'm on a spinning roller coaster of emotions!

But one thing I've observed for certain during this time is that my craziness really has a lot to do with control.

I absolutely cannot control when my baby is going to be born (well, unless I decided to induce and stuff--you know what I mean!).

For the most part, I can't do anything about it and yes, if it were up to me she would have been born two weeks ago.

But remembering back when Roxy was overdue, there were some really sacred and cherished moments those last few days before she came.

And that has really hit me lately. This is a time that I'm about to bring another human into the world. A time when a person is going to breathe life for the first time--just fresh from heaven.

And even more incredible? I get to be her mother.

I think that is OVER THE TOP amazing! Feeling humbled and grateful just can't be enough!

The other morning I woke up very early and felt like I should read my scriptures. I opened to 2 Nephi 22:2 and read, "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation."

I have read this verse over and over since then.

It was perfect for my situation right now. Heavenly Father is constantly putting me in positions that allow me to give up that control and rely fully on Him. Rely on His timing. His absolutely perfect timing!

My sweet, tiny, perfect baby girl is going to be born at the right time. And it's up to me to let go and trust that.

Until then? I'm loving the moment. Soaking in the present and taking one minute at a time.

I do this by stepping back and taking in a special appreciation of my surroundings.

Like...

Roxy's genuine smile.
My sweet husband doing something goofy (as always) and making me laugh.
Looking around our home just before turning off the lights before bed and feeling love and gratitude for the special place it has become for us--my little family.

I love what's happening in my life right now. Especially before this big change is about to happen.

I know there are beautiful things ahead for us and I am excited for them. But I don't want to miss out on right now. There is too much good to be had in these last treasured moments to feel frustrated or disappointed.

I hope I can make the most of today. And tomorrow. And every day after!

February 20, 2017

DIY SHIPLAP WALL

For the past year or so, my awesome hubby has been really into doing his own building projects.

And can I just say how much I love this?! It's so much cheaper doing your own stuff and you can make it exactly the way you want it!

Anyway, one of his most recent projects is our new shiplap wall we have in our entry room. Definitely one of my faves so far!

I don't know if many of you saw what the room looked like before, but pretty quickly after moving into our home, we painted that wall a turquoise/teal color. We wanted it to be an accent wall. I loved the color and it went with much of the decor in our home. 

But it was SO dark. I didn't love how people were greeted by a dark room when they entered our home. So we tried painting it a lighter, aqua color. Again, pretty shade but just too much on the eyes, ya know? We didn't love it. 
The wall with the lighter, aqua color. Just a bit too much!

So we got to talking about doing an accent/textured wall. Something bright and different. Something more rustic and farmhouse style. But everything out there seemed SO expensive and impossible to do. After some searching, Cam suggested doing a shiplap wall. I wasn't too familiar with it, but after looking at more ideas on Pinterest, I fell in love with the idea! 

And the best part was we could do it it on our own and it was very inexpensive and simple! 

Since Cam was the mastermind behind this project, I'm going to let him take over this post and talk about how he did this step by step! Happy reading.

-------------------------------------

This was a very enjoyable project for me and I was able to put it together in one Saturday. I only used a couple tools, but even if you don't have all these tools there are work arounds. My full list of tools, not including the paint supplies (brushes, rollers, etc.) are as follows:

1. Miter Saw
2. Brad Nailer
3. Mini Hack Saw (Could also use a coping saw, jab saw, or something equivalent)
4. Level
5. Tape Measure
6. Stud Finder
7. Sand Paper (Grit doesn't really matter in this case, any will work)
8. 1/4 inch tile spacers

Numbers 3-6 are inexpensive and if you don't have any of them already they are very affordable. The others, miter saw and brad nailer, are fairly expensive and if you don't have them and can't borrow them from someone you know there are a couple work arounds. The first is at home depot, lowes, etc. they have tool rentals where you could rent them for the day.

The other option in replacement of  the brad nailer is to use the old hammer and nail method which works perfectly, but is just more time consuming and you get a better workout. For the miter saw replacement, if you measure out all the cuts you need home depot or Lowes will make those cuts for you in store, possibly for a small free, but they've done it for free before for me as well. Home Depot has never charged me, although they haven't always had the most straight cuts in some of my experiences. Lowes has charged me 25 cents per cut which is very affordable. More on this in a moment.

If this is one project that you want to do, but aren't planning on doing many more diy projects it wouldn't be worth it to buy the expensive tools, but for me I knew that I would be doing many more projects when I bought these tools and they have definitely paid off. I've been able to build a playhouse and ballpit for Roxy, an entertainment center, trash and recycle boxes, install baseboard trim, and have many more plans in mind for the future. I've used these tools for every project and they have paid for themselves already.

Now on to the actual project details.

First you will want to measure your space depending if it is one wall, two walls, or a whole room, you will need to know the square footage so that you can buy the right amount of plywood. The wall which we were doing was just about 8 ft from floor to ceiling and 12 ft from side to side which ended up being perfect for buying the plywood.

We bought 3 sheets of 1/4 in. thick plywood from Lowes ($15 per sheet). Since the sheets are 4 ft. by 8 ft, 3 sheets fit our wall perfectly. We also decided that we wanted our boards to be 8 inches in width which would give us six 8ft long boards per plywood sheet.

I wanted to save myself time and energy so I had them cut my boards every 8 inches for me. Their cuts were perfect. The first few cuts are free and then they charge, as I mentioned above, 25 cents for the other cuts. I ended up being charged for 10 cuts which came out to $2.50. Definitely worth it.

Once you get home with your boards you'll want to sand the edges a bit just to take off any of the splinters and smooth the boards out.

After sanding I was one step away from being ready to nail up the boards. Before you put up the boards you will need to find out where all your studs are so that you will know where to nail your boards to the wall. I used my stud finder and drew lines vertically down the wall so I could easily see where the studs were and where I needed to nail.

Now I was ready to start putting up the boards. I started at the top left corner of the wall at the ceiling with the thought that the last row's boards will be a bit less than 8 inches wide after spacing between boards after installation and the bottom row is less noticeable than the top row, especially with the baseboard trim.

It would be easier to install if you had another person helping you hold the board, but it is doable by yourself if you have a nail gun. If you're using a hammer and a nail you will definitely need a helping hand. Hopefully your ceiling is level, but just to make sure I used a level for the first row so that I knew it was perfect. I put two nails in the board at each stud, one towards the top of the board and one closer to the bottom. After I got the first board up I measured from the end of the first board to the wall so I could cut the next board to fit the space exactly. Cut it with the miter saw and nailed. Top row done!

We needed to stagger the boards every row to improve the look. The first row was an 8 ft board followed by a 4 ft board, so the next row would by a 4 ft board then an 8 ft board. Also, to get a uniform spacing between each row of boards I used 1/4 inch tile spacers. I put a handful of tile spacers between the first row and second row before nailing the second row in place. This same process was followed all the way down to the floor.

We did have one outlet in that wall that we had to cut around so that the board would fit. I used the mini hack saw to cut out the section where the outlet was.

At this point all the boards were up and we were ready for paint, but the space between rows was still the aqua color. Before starting the project I decided that it would be easier to paint just the spaces white instead of painting the whole wall white. To make it quicker I used spray paint to paint the spaces so that all the aqua was gone. It's recommended to have the wall behind the boards (or at least the spaces that are showing between rows of boards) to be the same color as the shiplap. After this was done we rolled on two coats of white paint.

For anyone who has ever looked for white paint, you know what a dilemma it actually is. There are whites with a slight blue hint or tan hint or gray hint etc. and they all look white on their own until you put them up against each other and then they suddenly look drastically different. Since our walls are tan and our floors are a lighter weathered barnwood color we went with a white that went well with them. The color we chose was Valspar Four Winds which ended up being perfect. Benjamin Moore Simply White is also a great option. We used that color on our kitchen cabinets and it is great, hence why it was the 2016 color of the year. The closest store didn't carry Benjamin Moore which is why we went with the Valspar, but we love it as well.

After it was all painted, we put quarter round trim vertically down the sides to clean up the look of the wall.



We loved the finished result!

February 1, 2017

MATERNITY SHOTS

We weren't able to do a professional maternity session this pregnancy, so we decided to just take our own pictures of the baby bump for Mila to have.

Thanks to my hubby and baby for being willing to bear through the cold and snow for a little bit. It was FREEZING, but absolutely gorgeous up the canyon.

Here's some of our favorites we ended up with:







We are so excited to meet this little princess!

January 31, 2017

THE NAME GAME PLUS NURSERY UPDATES

When I was pregnant with Roxy, there was little debate on her name. We have always loved the name Roxy--since before we were even married. So there was never any question that our first girl would have that name. And that stayed true.

This time around on the other hand... Well, it's been... interesting.

Yes, we made a list. We narrowed it. Mutually agreed on the ones we felt were acceptable.

But man. It made my indecisive brain hurt.

And seriously. I have felt some intense pressure on getting it absolutely PERFECT. What if she doesn't like it? What if everyone mispronounces it? What if kids make fun of it? I mean, this is her name! Kind of a big--lifelong--deal.

We have also disagreed more this time. Which has honestly been more funny than frustrating. Here's how some of these conversations go:

Keri: "Oh what about this name? It's cute."

Cam: "Awful."

--OR--

Cam: "I really like the name _______"

Keri: "Yeah, that's not happening..."

And then there was the debate on whether or not our little girl would fit the name. Cam's logic for this? --> "If she's brown we'll name her this, and if she's white we'll name her that."

Sorry, probably offensive and inappropriate! But hey... you never know! What if we named her something very exotic and she turns out to be a recessive babe like Rox? Just sayin...

All joking aside, we want a name that feels right to us and that is carefully picked for our little one. One that we both like and has a good meaning behind it. And hopefully she'll fit it because I'm too stressed to wait to decide after she's born!

So after several conversations, making a decision then changing it, saying it out loud and "feeling it out", we've come to the conclusion of Mila Rose.

After looking at 10,000 baby name lists, Mila is one that has stood out to me. It's short and pretty and has simple spelling. And I love that I don't really know a ton or even anyone with the name--besides the famous Mila Kunis of course. We have also been calling her Mila throughout my pregnancy and it really has felt right!

Plus, as far as I have found, it has a nice meaning behind it--well, meanings. Since it's used mainly as a shortened name, it comes from many different origins. All of which seem to evoke positive feelings:

Gracious
Dear
Pleasant
Miracle
Love

All beautiful meanings that I already associate with my baby girl. I feel like it couldn't be more perfect!

On top of that, we both have a good feeling about it and Roxy can already say her name! Win.

As for her middle name, it has been just as difficult if not more difficult to decide on! The debate was whether she would be given a family name or just one that we liked. And after trying all sorts of combinations, we have decided on a name we simply thought was darling. Rose.

I have seen the combination before, so that worried me a little. Again, I don't want her to feel like she has a trendy name or that it's a middle name everyone has. But I think roses are beautiful and delicate and the two names together has a pretty ring to it. Plus I could see "Mila Rose" being just a name of adoration for her, even if we didn't pick Rose.

Anyway, that's a long (probably very unnecessary) explanation. But we hope that when you're reading this one day, Mila, that you know how special picking your name has been for us. We love you to the moon and back!

Okay. Now for the nursery.



Simple and floral. Everything that exemplifies the name!

This was an old dresser we got for 20 bucks! Of course we got what we paid for and it was a bit beat up to begin with. But with a little bit of mint chalk paint and some sweet little rose knobs, she didn't turn out half bad!

Well, everything is pretty much ready to go for our little one's arrival. Nursery done. Hospital bags packed. Now I am just dreaming of holding her in my arms and kissing her sweet face (hopefully soon)!

We can't wait to officially meet you Mila Rose!

January 24, 2017

MOM LIFE LATELY

At the end of every year, I print out our blog so that we have all of our stories in a nice little book that our family gets to keep forever.

Well today our 2016 blog book arrived. Roxy and I blew through it from cover to cover excitedly and I loved reminiscing on all of our adventures from last year.

Though I'm glad I focused on some of the "bigger" events, I wish that I had written a little more about my every day mom moments.

Those are the moments that really have the most profound impact on my life and I feel like they are worth remembering.

And I'm not necessarily talking about just what my kids are up to (Roxy has her own blog that I print out as well and it's completely focused on her and her development), but the moments that make motherhood oh so amazing and hard all at once. I'm sure some of you get what I am saying!

So this year that is my goal. To write more about my life as a Mommy. Every beautiful, messy part of it!

I will start this off by talking a little about what life has been like right now--raising a toddler with another little one on the way.

And oh boy is my Roxy a toddler. A full blown mess-making, tantrum-throwing, adorably-verbalizing TODDLER.

This makes for many exhausting and I-don't-know-what-the-heck-I'm-doing days. BUT nothing else in my life has been more rewarding. Because man. Do I love that girl.

Her stubbornness can be maddening! And her leg clinging? Immobilizing. But gosh, I LOVE her.

I wish I could really pinpoint exactly what makes it so amazing!

Maybe it's the genuine kisses and hugs.

Or when she says something ridiculously cute and has us rolling with laughter!

Or at the end of one of those #momfail days and she says, "love you, Mommy" in her teeny baby voice.

Whatever it is, she makes every day worth it. And I would not want to be anyone else but her mother. How did I get so incredibly blessed to be hers? I feel like I've asked the same question every day since she was born: is she really mine forever? The connection is undeniable and truly the closest to heaven I've ever felt.
I'm going to miss when she always wanted to be held. 

So now as we are getting very close to welcoming another sweet daughter into our family, I can't help but want to savor these days with her.

--Not that I am sad about having two because I am absolutely thrilled that our family is growing and especially that Roxy is getting a best friend.

But it has been me and my Roxybelle since the beginning. She's my sidekick. We spend all day of every day together.

And as happy and excited as I am to experience my love grow with another little human, I know there will not be a time like this again.

So lately, I'm just taking one day at a time with my little girl who has been my whole world for the last two years.

Our days are spent doing more cuddling and coloring together. I try to plan fun activities with her and save the less important things for later.

I know she won't really remember any of this, so as you are reading this in the future, Roxy, know that this was a special time with just us two (three including Daddy of course!). Know that we love you and that you will always always be my baby!

Alright, I think this was enough cheese for one night. But here's to making the most of these last few weeks before our new adventure as a family of four begins!

December 31, 2016

DECEMBER 2016

This Christmas season has been one to remember for our little family. We have really enjoyed the festivities and felt the special spirit that comes this time of year.

The first weekend in December, we went to see a Live Nativity at the University Place in Orem. Roxy loved seeing all of the animals! They had tiny pigmy goats, sheep, a donkey, and even a camel! The stable scene with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus and the wisemen were cute and they served yummy free hot cider there. It was a wonderful way to start off our Christmas season!


We also participated in the Light the World initiative that the Church put out this year. The message encouraged everyone--of any faith or background--to honor Jesus Christ's birth by following His life, teachings and example. The idea was that by doing so, we could all make the world a brighter place!

The church presented an advent calendar that had each day focused on a specific teaching of Christ and listed different ideas on how we too can be like Him and apply it to our own lives. They also provided a short video for each day as well. So every day leading up to Christmas, I had us open a small envelope that contained the Light the World challenge for that day along with a scripture telling part of the story of Jesus' birth. As we read these every morning, we pondered what we could do to that day to follow His example. Some were as simple as a prayer for someone specific or donating clothes to those in need.
I wanted to really make it about baby Jesus for her. She loved reading stories about Him and seeing "baby Jesus" in different nativities.

I really loved this daily reminder to be more Christlike. It was such a great way to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. It's just a mindset I always want to have and this was a special way to end the year and begin a new one refreshed with the hope to keep Christ in our lives daily.

We were also able to participate in a 12 Days of Christmas Charity Drive with our neighborhood. This was really neat too; basically for the first 12 days in December, we put a different item in a box for a charity. Our neighborhood decided on two different charities this year, one for the Road Home (homeless shelter) and another for the Cancer Institute. This was another wonderful way to start the season of giving. It truly helped us prepare for that Christmas spirit as well.

Roxy and I also went to our annual Candy Day with all the women on my dad's side of the family. Thanks Aunt Dee for taking pictures (I'm the worst!), but it was so much fun and this year my Gram even got to come! Roxy also loved playing with the kids, Uncle Kyle and Papa too!
Turned out so pretty! We do a good job. When I say "we" I mean my aunties and cousins. I mostly helped eat and take some home :P


Such a fun group! Love all these people so much!

She found a ginormous teddy bear in Aimee's room while she was playing upstairs with the kids. Made her life complete!

While my grandparents were visiting that same weekend, they got to swing by and see Roxy one day too. It's always such a treat!
She loves her Papa and Gram!

For family home evening one night we went to see Luminaria at Thanksgiving Point. It was so beautiful and we were quite impressed! Roxy loved seeing all the lights and REAL reindeer. And we especially loved the Light of the World garden that showed different scenes of Christ's life from the New Testament using sculptures surrounded by hundreds of glowing lanterns and peaceful music.
All bundled up ready to see the lights!

We've had a few big storms this year so Roxy's been able to experience some playtime in the snow. She likes to look at it and walk around in it... but pretty much hates being in it or touching it. Anyway, makes for some fun pictures!

All fun and games until it gets real!






We weren't going to do the Santa thing this year, but after looking at her picture from last year we just had to keep up the tradition! --Even though she may not remember it and she's still likely to cry at this age. So I looked around a little last minute and found a Santa at a nearby library to take her to. I wasn't sure how great it was going to be since it was free, but he was the sweetest Santa ever (+ a real beard!) and I was impressed at how well she responded to him. She was a little nervous while we were in line so I just kept telling her, "that's Santa and he is very nice. And look! He has candy canes!" She watched carefully as the other kids got on his lap. When it came our turn she sat right on him and only had a little quiver lip at the end. She wouldn't smile or say anything, but I'm so glad we got a picture!

Even though we didn't get to spend Christmas day in our own home this year, I loved getting it festive for the holidays! I was able to snap a few pictures of Roxy in her Christmas dress by our tree before we left.


When I told her to stand by the tree and smile this is what she gave. She flopped on the floor and ripped out her bow shortly after. Oh how I love this girl!


We also decided to do a little Christmas at home and exchanged gifts with just the three of us. It was so fun to watch Roxy's little face light up as she ripped open the presents. Even though she is still pretty little to understand all that is going on, Christmas with her is so magical and we feel so blessed!
In awe of her new balance bike!

Checking out her new book with Daddy.
Trying on Daddy's new hat!

A few days before Christmas we made the journey to our hometown of Ramah, New Mexico. We love that we are both from this little town full of memories and any chance we get to see both of our families.

On Christmas Eve, we visited Cameron's parents and watched Small One (a family tradition) and then later watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas with my parents (not a tradition, but still a good one!). We were the only ones out of the Cam's siblings that were there this year, but my little sister Shelbi and her fiance Josh were there.

Since Christmas was on a Sunday this year, the morning was pretty rushed trying to do Christmas presents before leaving for church. But we were able to open some with my family before and others with Cam's family after. And as always, meals were split so we had Christmas lunch with his family and Christmas dinner with mine. Needless to say we were stuffed and it all made for a very busy day!
Checking out gifts, getting hair ready for church, Christopher and his new bow tie and suspenders!
Bottom left: in the freezing icy wind--did I mention we had a white Christmas in Ramah?? Bottom middle: watching small one with Papa.
Getting ready for church with Mommy and cheesin' it!
Top: Kissing her new baby doll Nana got her. Nana GG made the sweet little clothes for the doll! Bottom: trying out her new four wheeler with baby Christopher and playing with Bubbles (Shelbi's pup).

Cameron was able to get some time off between Christmas and New Years,  so we got to enjoy the last days of his break in Ramah too. We spent that time visiting with Brittany and her boys (they drove out after Christmas!), riding horses, eating yummy food, celebrating my mom's birthday, and doing lots of relaxing. It's been a great break and I just love that Roxy's been able to spend time with her cousins!
Roxy and Han. Those two just adore each other. I love how well they play together!

At the end of the week, we had a quick diaper shower for baby girl on the way at my Mom's house. It was great visiting with a few ladies from town and of course indulging on my mom's delicious Filipino food (that I'm constantly craving)! It was so sweet of my Mom and Lisa to plan it for us!
Roxy and Mommy with her FOUR grandmothers--Lola, Nana, Gram & GG. She is so lucky!

Celebrating baby girl #2 with family and friends.

Sadly, because of weather, we had to rush back to Utah right after the shower. It's great to be back home, but sad to leave everyone. But I'm always so grateful for any amount of time we get to spend with family and friends. We truly are blessed! We are excited for new adventures ahead and hope you all have a wonderful, happy new year!

Love, the Romines
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